Discovering Dinosaurs

What do you call a sleeping Dinosaur??

A Snoreasaurus!

So you want to get out more in your camper trailer.  Have you thought about going to see some dinosaurs?  Outback Queensland is a great place to see some of our Australian Dinosaurs and learn about who they were and where they were found.

We left Cairns reasonably early on a Thursday and made it as far as Porcupine Gorge.  This is a really lovely bush campsite.  Where you are able to have a campfire and do some off grid camping.  You need to book online with the National Parks website and some of the campsites have campfires some don’t we found that sites 2,4,5,7&8 had campfires.  Sites 1 & 3 were also great if you need a drive through type site.  You can spend plenty of time here and trek to the base to savour the magnitude of this amazing gorge system or for Four Wheel Drive enthusiasts, enjoy selected drives throughout the shire, taking in amazing landscapes and diverse terrain.  We did the short walk to the lookout and then were on our way again in the morning for the short trip into Hughenden. 

Queensland’s Dinosaurs lived during the Cretaceous period which was about 145.5 million years ago to 65.5 Million years ago.  There are some really great places to visit in Queensland’s Dinosaur trail and we had a great time exploring them

We went and got ourselves a campsite at the caravan park and had lunch at Rotary Park where there was heaps of play equipment for the kids, toilets and covered picnic areas.  Then it was onto the Flinders Discovery Centre where we saw ‘Hughie’ a Muttaburrasaurus, and a whole lot of other smaller fossils from the cretaceous period.  We then finished the day with a trip up Mount Walker to see the lovely sunset and Doug had a go at flying his new toy…  So he bought a Drone, specifically he bought a DJI Mavic Pro.  Its great fun to fly and you can take some amazing photos and video with it right off the bat without the need to “figure it out” too much.

Day 3 Saw us heading off from Hughenden Via the Bysalt Byways.  It’s a great 4×4 track winding between the landscapes north of Hughenden, there are plenty of lookouts and a couple of creek crossings to keep everyone happy.  You may even spot a kangaroo or emu while your out.  Or if you are as lucky as us you might even find some Donkeys….

So back into Hughenden for lunch and for the kids to have a play at the Rotary Park again and onto Richmond.  Mummy drove this section of the trip, so to all those ladies out there who’s husbands wont let them drive I say wrestle that steering wheel away from them for a bit and have a go… any one can do it and if you never try one day you might need to do it when they are sick and you might not know where to start.. or what to do if your trailer gets up a bit of sway.  So try to learn a little each trip and soon enough you will be as good (or better) than the boys.

Day 4 and the Easter bunny came…..  He is such a clever bunny he brought the girls dinosaur easter eggs and some awesome new slippers! Such a clever bunny..

After we all had our fill of chocolate for breakfast we headed over to Kronosaurus Corner.  It has a great video to begin your tour that even the kids sat still for…. And they have a pretty amazing kids corner where they can find a dinosaur in the sand pit.  It looks just like the real one in the display area.  There is colouring for the kids to do and some silly dinosaur jokes too (which my kids loved).

What dinosaur could jump higher than a house?
All of them. Houses can’t jump!

Although the museum has mostly marine creatures, there are two dinosaurs; ‘Mia’ Minmi paravertebra – with impressions of its fossilised skin, it is considered to be Australia’s best-preserved dinosaur skeleton and ‘Marlin’s Beastie’ sauropod – a gigantic plant-eating dinosaur.

In Richmond you can also choose to go and unlock your inner-palaeontologist and explore Australia’s ancient marine past at Richmond’s Free Fossil Hunting Sites.  The Free Fossil Hunting Sites are located 12 kilometres North of Richmond, Outback Queensland and are accessible to all vehicles via fully sealed roads. Fossil Hunting Site permits, maps and guides are available at Kronosaurus Korner.

Also don’t forget to pop out to Lake Fred Tritton, there is a free water park and plenty of picnic tables for you to have lunch or spend the afternoon.  The lake is also stocked with 18 species of fish so it’s a great spot for some fishing if you would like.

From Richmond Day 5 was onto Winton.  We went via the Richmond Winton Rd which had just reopened after the considerable rain they had just received.  It had recently been graded and was a really good road to take.  We planed to stay in Winton for 2 nights and we were in town just a couple of days before way out west fest started so there were plenty of people making their way into town for this fantastic event.  We chose to do some more off grid bush camping in Winton.  We stayed at the Long Waterhole free camp, but there are also a number of campsites at the Mulga Camping are in the Bladensburg National Park as well.  So Winton, what can I tell you….. oh my gosh the flies……… and then after dark the beetles…… they were out because of the rain they had had recently but man they were out in force.  Everyone was forced to wear a fly net including the kids.  They were kind of luck because it came all the way down to their waist which meant their breakfast, lunch and dinner could go inside the net with them.  The rest of us had to fight the fly’s for it. 

What to do in Winton, well there is the Waltzing Matilda Centre, (we didn’t do this on this trip) this has had an amazing refurbishment since it was damaged in a fire in 2015 and looks fantastic.   It is also home to the Musical Fence, Willie Mar’s Chinese Garden and the Heritage Truck and Machinery Museum.  But onto the things we came to see, the Australian Age of Dinosaurs and Lark Quarry Dinosaur Stampede.  We did these a little bit backwards we went to Lark Quarry first and it doesn’t really matter but the kids will have a better understanding of who made the footprints if you do the museums the other way around.

Lark Quarry is fantastic.  I really enjoyed it,  I have been to other places where they say you can see dinosaur footprints  in the rock/ at the beach and you get there and yeah sure maybe that could have been a dinosaur footprint but it leaves you a little under whelmed.  I can guarantee you will see all sorts of dinosaur foot prints here and you will definitely know that they were made by dinosaurs. 

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum – is 24 kilometres south east of Winton to the ‘Jump Up’, a mesa that is home to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs and the worlds largest collection of Australian dinosaur fossils. Thirty minute tours of the Collection room and the Fossil laboratory operate daily on the hour from 9am to the last full tour at 3pm. Talk a walk along Dinosaur Canyon for spectacular view of the Outback Queensland landscape while learning more about Australia’s dinosaur history.  The Collection room is a great explanation of what dinosaurs you are looking at if you are taking kids make sure you get a front row seat, as it makes everything much easier to see when they are talking about the fossils in front of you.  The Fossil laboratory to be honest for our kids was a bit underwhelming, there was a lot of explanation of what was there and not really too much to look at.  If your kids are a bit older and starting to be interested in how you find fossils and what to do once you have found this this could be really great but Teags and Hailey are 4 & 2 so we really need things to look at and touch…

There is also a small walk that you can do at the Museum down to Dinosaur Canyon it has great views of the surrounding landscape. The kids can do etchings of the dinosaurs on each of the stops along the way and there are some amazing bronze dinosaur statues all throughout the walk depicting things that may/or may not have happened in the area when the dinosaurs lived here.

On our way back to camp from the Lark Quarry we took a tour through Bladensburg National Park.  If you stop in at the Waltzing Matilda Centre you can pick up some self guided drive maps and explore the area in your own time.  The National Park map takes you to all of the interesting places in the park.  The park was home to a large station which has been converted into the information centre and rangers office.  You can explore the old homestead with a self guided walk and you can also visit the old shearing sheds.  We chose to do the Route of the River Gum Half day drive.  It takes you through some of the National parks most interesting sites like Mistake Creek, the western picnic race club, Skull Hole and the claypans.  Our kids especially liked the old shearing sheds. 

From Winton we turned and headed out to Longreach.  We spent 3 days here and visited the Qantas Founders Museum, The Stockmans Hall of Fame,  We watched the Outback Stockman’s Dinner Show and had a ride on the Outback Pioneers Cobb and Co Stage Coach ride.  The kids loved the Outback Stockman’s Dinner Show.  The favourite part for Teagan was when on of the kids in the performance stood up on her horse and did some of her own whip cracking,  all she wanted to do from that point forward was to go and meet the young girl and tell her how clever she was.

The Qantas museum is pretty great,  especially if you take a tour of the 2 planes that they have onsite.  Inside in the Museum they have some great interactive displays that the kids can play with which gets them involved. 

Note to self just because you are plugged into a caravan park power outlet doesn’t mean it works,  it does pay to double check that things are charging before you end up with close to flat batteries in your camper trailer…. Oops…. There was no harm done we figured it out before the fridges turned off or anything else happened,  just lesson learned make sure that the power your plugged into actually work before you walk away.

From Longreach we were headed home.  We took the road from Longreach to Muttaburra, then Muttaburra to Hughenden, and then through to Porcupine Gorge for the nights camping.  It was so nice on the way out that we figured it would be a shame not to stop there on the way home too.  Roast dinner for tea! Yum! And a night spent by the campfire for our last night was just what the doctor ordered.  We were up again the next day and on the home stretch. Don’t forget to help your fellow travellers if you come across someone in need.  One day it could be you!